Residents of Morris say there have been a series of instances where Black Lives Matter lawn signs have been defaced and burned in recent days.
Local resident Sara Lam says there have been three signs burned on the city's East Side, and another defaced with spray paint on the West Side. Morris police meanwhile say they have received 2 complaints of lawn sign vandalism in recent days.
But the efforts of the vandals to destroy the signs appear to have had an unintended effect, with Lam saying that the incidents have prompted more residents to reach out asking for BLM signs.
"Originally, 20 signs were made and shared with people who requested them. After people became aware of the vandalism, we've steadily received more and more requests for signs," she said.
"So far we are at 72 new requests (on top of the original 20). People have also donated a total of $500 for sign-making supplies so far."
Among those concerned by the spate of vandalism is Liz Thomson, who recently moved to the city.
"As a new resident in Morris, I'm deeply concerned to hear about the destruction and burnt Black Lives Matter yard signs. As a queer, person of color, I had hopes of a basic sense of safety, welcoming environment, and inclusiveness," they said.
"I hoped my new city would be beyond tolerant, but accepting. The acts of destruction shows the contrary and that more work is needed around anti-racism."
Destroying signs 'an affront to our town'
Other residents whose signs were destroyed have criticized those responsible.
"Our neighbors are very important to us. On this one street are Black families, Mexican immigrants, and members of the local police," said Rob Denton, whose sign was graffitied. "We think that Black Lives Matter is about protecting and giving a voice to important members of this community. Destroying these signs is an affront to the entire town."
Another resident whose sign was burned, Naomi Skulan, said: "I'm hoping that we will be able to come together as a community to make Morris safe for our Black and POC community members and fight against the injustices they face in the United States and here in our small town.
"I've been very heartened to see the number of people in our community who have requested Black Lives Matter signs to post in their own yards in response."
Also condemning the vandalism is Samuel Rosemark, the president of the Morris Campus Student Association, who is calling on the mayor and police to denounce the behavior.
"A strong message must be sent from all of us that this kind of hate is absolutely not tolerable in any way, shape, or form in our community. As the Student Body President of the University of Minnesota Morris, with students coming back on campus this fall it is my responsibility to ensure that every student feels welcomed and included not only on campus but throughout the Morris community. I am confident each of you share this vital belief.
"This is especially important in regard to Black students, students of color, and Indigenous students. Every student of color deserves to be a part of and warmly welcomed in our inclusive community. We must all collectively support our students and community members of color and take urgent and decisive action to publicly denounce these disgraceful and hateful acts."